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I find the passive construction quite fun to use. However I had not come across the use of a reflexive construction instead of the passive before. The reflexive constructions sound very unusual to my native english ear. For example:

Der Schlüssel wird sich sicher noch finden


Der Schlüssel wird sicher noch gefunden werden


Das Buch liest sich schnell


Das Buch kann schnell gelesen werden

Are the reflexive constructions used commonly in everyday speech? Or is my library book (2003) too outdated? I'd definitely struggle to understand the reflexive construction, and would probably think someone had said to me that their book can read fast.

The other difficulty for me would be recognising it's tense. They sound like the the present (e.g. wird finden = will find) but can future tenses like that simply be created just by turning it reflexive?

For example could I just say for "My email will be sent tomorrow"

Meine Email wird sich morgen schicken?

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(Note that it’s "E-Mail" instead of "Email".) – unor Mar 5 '14 at 19:04
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Are the reflexive constructions used commonly in everyday speech?

Yes, they are.

Der Schlüssel wird sich sicher[lich] noch finden

is perfectly correct and quite commonly used. To the speaker it's probable that either he himself or somebody else finds the key.

Der Schlüssel wird sicher noch gefunden werden

is basically the same, but in contrast it is a bit more cumbersome, sounds more official and puts more distance to the idea, that you will find the key yourself. It can be used in more serious situations. If a boy got lost for hours already, you'd rather use

Der Junge wird sicher noch gefunden werden.

[...] but can future tenses like that simply be created just by turning it reflexive?

They cannot be turned into future tense by using reflexive but by using reflexive plus (a form of) werden.

The former example is in future tense, though you might use present tense. In this case noch will be used most probably (not necessarily) to show it is not yet found, whereas it's no problem to omit it, when using future tense

Der Schlüssel findet sich sicher[lich] noch.
Der Schlüssel wird sich sicher[lich] finden.

You'd also prefer the noch version when you want to say something like for now I stop looking for it (I'll do that later)

In contrast

Meine Email wird sich morgen schicken?

is not correct. There are only certain verbs used in that manner.

Roggenbrötchen verkaufen sich gut.
Das neue Gebäck wird sich gut verkaufen.

Here you have present and future tense (like in your examples).

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  1. The reflexive constructions you cite (sich finden, sich lesen) are used commonly in everyday speech in these contexts.
  2. Das Buch liest sich sehr schnell. is even more common than the passive alternative Das Buch kann schnell gelesen werden..
  3. The reflexive construction you make up (sich schicken) just doesn't exist. The passive construction is to be used here: Meine Email wird morgen (ab-)geschickt werden.
  4. Der Schlüssel *wird* sich sicher noch finden. is in future tense.
  5. Das Buch *liest* sich schnell. is in present tense.
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And even though Meine Email wird morgen (ab-)geschickt grammatically correct it is not a phrase that would be commonly used in German. – SAnderka Feb 28 '14 at 8:07
@SAnderka But that's no issue of German but of the email usage. Most eleborated email servers, email applications or even cron-jobs allow scheduled sending of emails. If you use scheduled sending of emails. This sentence would be a common way to do so. Scheduled sending of emails itself is just not common. – Toscho Feb 28 '14 at 8:15
Yes, you're right, I didn't think about scheduled email services. – SAnderka Feb 28 '14 at 8:34

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